Connor Jaeger had only swum the 1500m freestyle four times before his Olympic Trials debut in 2012. He finished second, earning him an Olympic rings tattoo and later a sixth-place finish at the London Games. One might say distance freestyle is just his thing. Born in 1991 to parents Eric and Bernadette Jaeger, he began swimming at age 8. Jaeger grew up with his sister, Dana, in Fair Haven, NJ, where both swam for the Central Jersey Aquatic Club (CJAC) under coaches Corrina Weinkofsky and Cathy Corcione.
Jaeger showed early promise by qualifying for New Jersey All Star and Junior Olympics teams. He attended Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School and by the time he graduated in 2010, Jaeger was named All-State in the 200yd freestyle and set five Shore Conference records.
Jaeger began his collegiate career at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI in the fall of 2010. He achieved his first NCAA championship as a freshman on the Wolverines’ 800yd freestyle relay. Sophomore year, he secured a third place finish in the 1650yd freestyle and finished fifth in the 500yd freestyle. He returned for the 2012-2013 season a freshly-crowned Olympian, and helped Michigan to an NCAA team championship with wins in the 500yd and 1650yd freestyle events. He was named the Big Ten Swimmer of the Year in both 2013 and 2014, and is a ten-time NCAA All-American. Jaeger finished his senior year and graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering.
Jaeger has been on the U.S. National Team since 2012. Following his second place finish at U.S. Olympic Trials and sixth place finish at the 2012 Olympic Games in the 1500m freestyle, he solidified his place among the world’s elite with wins in the 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle events at the 2013 Phillips 66 National Championships.
2013 FINA World Championships
Jaeger won a bronze medal in the 400m freestyle at the 2013 FINA World Championships in Barcelona and finished fourth in the 800m and 1500m.
2014 Pan Pacific Championships
Jaeger won the 1500m freestyle in 14:51.79 at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships in Australia (Gold Coast). Jaeger also claimed to two bronze medals with a 3:45.31 in the 400m freestyle and a 7:47.75 in the 800m freestyle. Jarger barely missd the silver in the 800, getting edged by Mack Horton by .02 (7:47.73).
2014 USA Swimming Winter Nationals
In 2014, Jaeger competed at USA Swimming Winter Nationals in Greensboro, NC, and set a new American and U.S. Open record in the 1650 freestyle with a time of 14:23.52.
2015 World Championships
Jaeger came into the FINA World Swimming Championships in Kazan on a mission to bring back America’s pride in distance swimming. In his first two individual events of the meet — the 400-meter and 800-meter freestyles, Sun Yang was dominant. Jaeger just missed the podium in both, being just out-touched in the last meters of the races finishing fourth.
In his last event of the championships, Jaeger was left to swim the longest and most grueling of them all, the 1500-meter free. Jaeger mentioned that he was a little disappointed with missing the podium in his first two races, but Team USA was inspiring and helped him prepare for his finale swim. He typically takes out his races nice and relaxed, and chases the lead swimmers down — a strategy that worked out well for him in Kazan. He trailed the leaders, Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri and Canada’s Ryan Cochrane, for a majority of the race, but at the 1,000-meter mark Jaeger began to reel them in. Jaeger caught Cochrane, but Paltrinieri held on for first, finishing two seconds ahead of Jaeger, who came in for silver. Jaeger dropped about six seconds off of his best time in the 1500, and his time was four seconds below the American Record, which had been standing for 11 years.
2016 U.S Olympic Trials
On the opening night of the trials, Jaeger punched his ticket to his second Olympic Games with a gold in the 400 meter freestyle thanks to a storming final 50 meters to overtake Conor Dwyer. He had a long wait to add his second event in Rio. In the last final of the Trials Jaeger took gold again, this time in the 1,500 meter freestyle. Jaeger and Jordan Wilimovsky were the clear leaders through out the race. The question was what order the two would finish. Jaeger just beat Wilimovsky at most of the turns and manage to pull away a little bit more in the final stages to touch one and a half seconds before Wilimovsky.
2016 Rio Olympics
Jaeger won his first Olympic medal on the last night of swimming in Rio. He touched in 14:39.48 in the 1,500 meter freestyle to stand on the podium in an Italian sandwich. Jaeger took the silver with Italian teammates Gregorio Paltrinieri and Gabriele Detti taking gold and bronze respectively. It was a big improvement from his Olympic debut where he finished sixth in the event four years earlier.
Earlier in the week, Jaeger raced to a fifth place finish in the 400 meter freestyle on the opening night in Rio. It was a close fought race in the closing stages which saw Jaeger finish just behind his USA teammate, Conor Dwyer who touched in 3:44.01 to Jaegers 3:44.16.
Originally developed by Natalie Schumann.